Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Technical Committee on Environment (TCE) has planned 12 bi-communal field visits on 6 different thematic areas. As a result of pandemic and the risky health measures, the first visit under ``Mining and Quarrying`` thematic area was decided to be carried out separately and replaced with a webinar.
Skouriotissa, being the only operating mine in Cyprus exploited by Hellenic Copper Mines (HCM) was selected for this field visit. A meeting with the company's geologist for a tour at the mine and sharing information was arranged on Friday the 9th of October 2020.
HCM mission was to revive the country's mining industry by exploiting the remaining low grade copper reserves of Cyprus, starting from the ancient mines of the Skouriotissa area. Even though copper inventories have now been exhausted, a new gold-extraction unit within the mine is now operating. Gold-bearing ore reserves are transported from old/abandoned mines (Mathiatis/ Matyat, Apliki/Aplıç, Mitsero) and exploited there. A tour description of the unit and process was offered by the company's geologist.
During this tour we were informed about the environmental practices used in the mining area (chemicals used, recycling of the water used, practices applied to avoid soil contamination, tree planting, use of waste created). In addition, the company's geologist shared with us information about a new European project that the company participates (Xmine). The project aims to support better resource characterization and estimation as well as more efficient ore extraction in existing mine operations, making the mining of smaller and complex deposits economically feasible and increasing potential European mineral resources without generating adverse environmental impact.